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Simms, Chris - 'Shifting Skin'
Paperback: 320 pages (Sep. 2007) Publisher: Orion ISBN: 075288168X

Manchester police are investigating a murderer christened by the press: "The Butcher of Belle Vue". He/she partially skins the victims, all three have been women, before dumping them in the Belle Vue district.

Detective Inspector Jon Spicer is involved in the investigation and has a new partner Detective Sergeant Rick Saville. Unfortunately he has a poor relationship with his superior who feels that he prefers to follow his own instincts instead of procedure. Fiona Wilson who works in the same hairdressing salon as Jon's heavily pregnant partner Alice, is trying to escape from a violent husband and spends a night in a run down motel on the edge of Belle Vue. She hears the sound from an adjacent room of someone being throttled to death and believes it was the third murdered girl - a prostitute. On investigating the room in the morning she discovers a business card with the name Alexia and a local escort agency address written on it. She decides to try and locate this girl not believing that the police are taking it seriously enough.

This is a very good police procedure novel and is the author's fourth book (and second in the Jon Spicer series). I particularly liked the social history of Manchester and in particular of the Belle Vue district. The aggressive rugby playing Jon is disconcerted to discover his new partner is gay, but quickly this partnership of opposites begins to work.

The investigation takes in the cosmetic industry and the escort trade as well as a missing rep for a medical supply firm. Fiona's involvement is also crucial. It is well written and keeps your interest throughout. My only problem was the duties given to Jon and Rick which seemed to relate to a lower rank such as detective sergeant and detective constable rather than the ranks described. The issue that Jon has with Detective Chief Inspector McCloughlin seems petty but then again, so often when someone has a problem at work, it can seem trivial, but be all encompassing!

At the end of the book Jon is about to become a father and marries Alice so I look forward to reading more about them in the next book in the series SAVAGE MOON.

Geoff Jones, England
September 2008

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 25/11/2012 10:47